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Date of Issue: September 22, 2005

Battle expected over Anna Maria parking plan

If you plan on attending Thursday's Anna Maria City Commission meeting, it might be wise to get there early to get a seat.

The commission chamber only holds about 60 people and the main subject of the meeting is approval - or rejection - of an ordinance to regulate parking along streets in the city's designated beach access zone.

Previous meetings on the current "great parking hope" for the city - dubbed "Plan C" by Commissioner Duke Miller - resulted in overflow crowds and some stormy sessions. After all, the city's been trying to solve its parking woes since at least 1977.

Previous plans, such as Plan X and the Baskerville-Donovan Inc. plan, have all been rejected by the commission, as has resident-only permit parking.

Plan C is a "compromise" among commissioners such as Miller and Linda Cramer, who both originally favored parking by permit, and Commissioner Dale Woodland, who favored open parking.

While the commission consensus at its Sept. 8 worksession was to proceed with adoption of Plan C, not all residents are happy with the compromise.

Residents of several streets in the BAZ, including Oak Avenue and Palmetto Avenue, presented petitions to the commission objecting to Plan C.

"They had hoped their petitions would be heard by the commission," said Cramer. "They prefer resident-only parking."

Palmetto Avenue resident Joe Percone, a long-time resident of the city, has fought for years for permit parking. Although he may not be able to attend the Sept. 22 meeting, he said many of his neighbors will voice their shared objections.

Plan C affects only streets within the BAZ and calls for alternate side of the street parking, with the parking side to alternate annually. The commission suggested the plan begin Dec. 1.

The commission has agreed that if Plan C passes, it will be reviewed on an annual basis to see if it's working for the residents and visiting public.

Streets currently in Plan C that will have at least some open parking are Gladiolus Street, Fern Street, Newton Lane, Cypress Street, Spruce Avenue, Fir Avenue, Coconut Avenue, Sycamore Avenue, Elm Avenue, Magnolia Avenue, Palm Avenue, Palmetto Avenue, Cedar Avenue, Maple Avenue, Beach Avenue and Peppertree Lane

The Sept. 22 meeting starts at 7 p.m.